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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

B4: 2014 BCS Championship Presented by Vizio - Auburn vs. Florida State

I'm sure plenty have waxed poetic about the BCS ending at the Rose Bowl, but it truly is fitting. It's almost a tease for the Marching Chiefs and Auburn University Marching Band to head to a bowl game in Pasadena and not get to perform in the Rose Parade. Still, don't expect me to shed any tears for either band - their "consolation" prize is playing for a national championship.


Florida State:

B4: 2014 Discover Orange Bowl - Ohio State vs. Clemson

This is perhaps bowl season's biggest tease. The Best Damn Band in the Land has been this season's internet royalty, having viral success on several shows, and that says nothing of of the Script Ohio, typically even revered by the band unfriendly Worldwide Leader. And yet they find themselves headed to the Orange Bowl, which still sees fit to bring in a stage show for a college football bowl game halftime show, so instead of TBDBITL or the Band that Shakes the Southland, attendees will be treated to country artist Dierks Bentley.

Ohio State:


B4: 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs. Oklahoma

As major college football begins its playoff, the Sugar Bowl will be home to an SEC/Big 12 matchup in years that it isn't hosting a semifinal game. They're getting the party started a year early here with two of the most storied programs in college football and a pair of Sudler Trophy winning bands.



B4: 2014 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Baylor vs. UCF

Both of these schools are making their first BCS appearances in the final year of the BCS. While Baylor has had a seat at the big boy's table the entire time, UCF just got theirs and made the most of it in what may be their only year to do so.



B4: 2014 Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio - Stanford vs. Michigan State

I have used the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band as a foil to the Big Ten's traditional style on more than one occasion, and I'm going to backpedal just a bit: Stanford's style IS traditional. In fact, it's a tradition shared by the oldest universities in the country in the Ivy League, and while it fell out of favor with others in major college football or on the west coast, Stanford keeps it alive, while facing a more, um, traditionally traditional? band in the Spartan Marching band.


Michigan State:

B4: 2014 Go Daddy Bowl - Ball State vs. Arkansas State

The Sound of the Natural State is no stranger to the Yellowhammer State; Arkansas State made the trip down to Mobile for the Go Daddy Bowl the past two years. This time they'll meet the Pride of Mid-America in the season's penultimate game.

Ball State:

Arkansas State:

B4: 2014 BBVA Compass Bowl - Vanderbilt vs. Houston

It's been said that there are too many bowls, but I'm more inclined to agree with the fact that there are too many less-than-elite bowls after the new year begins. Bowl season should be a crescendo, and bowl like this one interrupt that. That said, both schools should be proud to be playing here; Vanderbilt has never played in the new year, and Houston hasn't been there since the 1985 Cotton Bowl.



B4: 2014 AT&T Cotton Bowl - Oklahoma State vs. Missouri

I've said before that the current MO of college football is to take our conference rivalries through realignment and sell them back to us as bowl games. Not that this was ever a marquee matchup, but it was just two short years ago that these two were Big 12 conferencemates. Oklahoma State will find themselves back in Jerryworld in less than 8 months as they play in the Cowboys Classic.

Oklahoma State:


B4: 2014 Capital One Bowl - Wisconsin vs. South Carolina

When I saw the Mighty Sound of the Southeast earlier this year, the only band they had across the field (actually, further down the same sideline) was a pep band version of the Marching Tar Heels. They'll have significantly more to face in Orlando as they take on the Badger Band.


South Carolina:

B4: 2014 Outback Bowl - Iowa vs. LSU

I have fond memories of the Outback Bowl from my days in Tampa, and I got to see the Hawkeye Marching Band coming through Ybor City live in advance of the 2004 Outback Bowl. The Golden Band from Tigerland should feel at home among Tampa's bead-throwing tradition.



B4: 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl - UNLV vs. North Texas

As an alumnus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of South Florida, spare me the "regional school vs. directional school" rhetoric. The Cotton Bowl lives on in the Heart of Dallas as the namesake game has moved to Arlington, and the Green Brigade of North Texas won't have far to travel.


North Texas:

B4: 2014 Gator Bowl - Nebraska vs. Georgia

It hasn't been too long since these two have seen one another; this same matchup played out in last year's Capital One Bowl. This time, this dual-Sudler matchup is being played just up the road apiece in Jacksonville. Georgia met the newest member of the Sudler fraternity here earlier in the year, as they faced Florida in the they-don't-want-us-to-call-it-the-World's-Largest-Outdoor-Cocktail-Party-anymore.



Sunday, December 29, 2013

B4: 2013 Chick Fil-A Bowl - Duke vs. Texas A&M

Coming off a stellar season, the schedule did the Duke football team no favors, as they find themselves facing a pair of Heisman winners to end the season - Jameis Winston in the ACC Championship and Johnny Manziel in the Chick Fil-A Bowl. the Duke University Marching Band didn't fair much better, taking their undersized band up against the Marching Chiefs and now the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.


Texas A&M:

B4: 2013 AutoZone Liberty Bowl - Rice vs. Mississippi State

Rice's Marching Owl Band has been known for nonstandard instrumentation and the irreverent humor native to scramble bands, so it wouldn't surprise me if they take aim at Mississippi State's cowbells, or perhaps the state of Mississippi itself, as they meet the Famous Maroon Band in Memphis.


Mississippi State:

B4: 2013 Hyundai Sun Bowl - Virginia Tech vs. UCLA

Remember the MagicJack Bowl, which set up shop in St. Petersburg before Beef O'Bradys took over sponsorship? We may see a Magic Jack in this bowl, in the form of Myles Jack, UCLA's two-way freshman who won both offensive and defensive freshman of the year in the Pac-12. Any chance someone in the Marching Virginians or the Solid Gold sound switches from horns to drumline mid-show?

Virginia Tech:


B4: 2013 Advocare V100 Bowl - Arizona vs. Boston College

Arizona is used to seeing maroon and gold across the field, but typically, its in the form of in-state rival Arizona State. Seniors marching with the Screaming Eagles may be the only ones who have enjoyed a bowl trip before - their last bowl eligible season came in 2010.

Update: The Pride of Arizona is actually not making the trip to Louisiana, instead opting to rent a band. Playing the part of Arizona's marching band will be the Demon Marching Band of Northwestern State University.


Boston College:

B4: 2013 National University Holiday Bowl - Texas Tech vs. Arizona State

It's a southwestern showdown as west Texas meets Arizona in San Diego. It's also one of this bowl season's four dual Sudler matchups, as the Goin' Band from Raiderland and the Sun Devil Marching Band have each taken home the prestigious award.

Texas Tech:


B4: 2013 Valero Alamo Bowl - Oregon vs. Texas

Texas should remember the Alamo - they were just here last year. It wasn't too long ago that both of these bands were playing on the grandest stage - Texas in 2009, Oregon in 2010 - against teams from Alabama. While Oregon has flirted with championship participation since, Texas' future is uncertain with Mack Brown retiring after this season.



B4: 2013 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech

Two founding members of the SEC are playing in Nashville. You can practically hear the strains of Dixie playing. No really - While the Pride of the South no longer plays From Dixie With Love, Dixie is still well incorporated into the Rebels' repertoire, and the Marching Yellow Jackets sneak it into Up With the White and Gold, one of Georgia Tech's official fight songs.

Ole Miss:

Georgia Tech:

B4: 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl - Middle Tennessee vs. Navy

This battle of blues features two bands who are used to hosting drum corps action at their stadiums. Johnny "Red" Floyd Stadium in Murphreesboro is home to a DCI Tour of Champions event, the Masters of the Summer Music Games, while Navy-Marine Corps Stadium hosted the DCA World Championships.

Middle Tennessee:


Thursday, December 26, 2013

That Which we Call a Corps by Any Other Name...

But does it need to be?
Used with permission, Quantum Marching (Mapex/Jupiter)
The next thing I say isn't going to make a whole lot of drum corps fans happy, but deep down, each one knows it to be true. A drum corps is a marching band. Sure we don't call it that. It's too common. A drum corps is a highly specialized marching unit made of brass, percussion, guard, unicorns, and lightning! No, while the makeup is different than what we consider typical, and at least that which we know as DCI considers itself "Marching Music's Major League," the fact remains that a drum corps is a type of marching band. -"The Winds of Change," June 2012

Rich Homie Quan isn't the only one out there feeling some type of way. Picture the scene: Christmas morning, 2013. My wife, daughter, and I are in the living room, unwrapping presents. the Disney Parks Christmas Parade is on - it's not an annual parade tradition, but we tuned in specifically knowing that Carolina Crown would be performing. The feed shifts to Nick Cannon, in Disneyland, to introduce the next group, which will be performing across the country in Walt Disney World. As he begins his introduction, he refers to Carolina Crown as an "award-winning marching band". It was as though I could hear the screams from fellow band nerds nationwide.

I'm sure it didn't help matters that the vile phrase was uttered by the star of Drumline; Hollywood's only marching band-based movie remains polarizing among those in the marching band community. But the fact remains: Whenever a drum corps is referred to as a marching band, many of us recoil as though someone used a non-PC term or worse, a slur. I'm not saying I don't understand the reaction. It wasn't long ago I would have it myself, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't internally cringe just a little, if only out of empathy. But when we get on our high horse like this, we don't do ourselves, or the activity, any favors.

The way I see it, the fanatical insistence stems from one of a couple of things. One is, if I may be blunt, an inferiority complex. An overwhelming majority of drum corps fans who don't like the association are members of marching bands themselves. Somewhere, anecdotally or through personal experience, they have been led to view marching band as "less than" - not a worthwhile experience, something that draws at best indifference and at worst ridicule. There is a desire to disassociate the summer activity from that negative connotation - the rock stars, superheroes, and gods who march DCI (and to be clear, while they aren't the only drum corps game in town, that is nearly exclusively what many mean when they say drum corps) couldn't possibly be in something as common as a "marching band" - although nearly all are.

The second reason is nearly the opposite: Exclusivity and elitism. As drum corps fans, we use the term "drum corps" - and the knowledge not to call it a marching band - as a shibboleth to denote an insider of the activity. If someone gets it wrong? Well it tells us they don't know, don't belong, or are worthy of mockery. The problem with this is that as much as we preach "grow drum corps," this is a horrible way to get casual fans involved in the activity. Those who aren't closely engaged will make this mistake - and to be clear, it's really not a mistake - and in our "correcting" we may very well turn them off from the activity. After all, there's a decent chance that being a fan of or a part of marching band is why they are familiar with drum corps in the first place (was it for you?) and suggesting that it isn't either breaks the connection with their interest, or worse, makes them think that drum corps fans aren't the type of people they care to be around. What's more, the honest truth is that marching band is a household term. Drum corps isn't. How do you get people involved when you distance yourself from your closest relative and dearest ally? As the Quantum Marching ad above quips: "It's hard to explain." While it can be difficult to express drum corps to those who are previously unfamiliar, I'd argue it's only as hard as you choose to make it, and if you choose to hamstring yourself by refusing to say "marching band", You're not doing yourself any favors.

Is there a difference? In a lot of ways, yes, mostly qualitatively, but the simple truth remains: Drum corps are marching bands. If you don't want them used interchangeably, do your part by not doing it yourself, but understand that not everyone loves it like you love it. More importantly, do whatever you can to help make sure that the average person does know what drum corps is - even if they call it a marching band.

B4: 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl - Michigan vs. Kansas State

If commercials are to be believed, a bowl sponsored by Buffalo Wild Wings is bound to go into overtime. While it is associated with another bowl in name, both bands will march in the Fiesta Bowl Parade as part of the festivities surrounding bowl season in the Valley of the Sun.


Kansas State:

B4: 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl - Miami vs. Louisville

This is just a preview in what could become a key matchup in ACC. The two football teams will meet down in Coral Gables in the 2014 season, but for now, Louisville and the Marching Cards will meet the Band of the Hour on slightly less partisan grounds in Orlando.



B4: 2013 Belk Bowl - Cincinnati vs. North Carolina

This is my local bowl - it's right down the road from me in Charlotte, and I attended twice (as the Meineke Car Care Bowl) when USF played. Cincinnati vs. UNC sounds like a decent hoops matchup, but it's not bad on the gridiron either. Last year, Cincinnati played in Charlotte against UNC's archrival Duke.



B4: 2013 New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Rutgers vs. Notre Dame

With Rutgers' proximity to New York and Notre Dame's national presence, this matchup has the potential to be a big draw. Rutgers is wrapping up its tenure in the Big East, while Notre Dame ended its relationship this past year. With the Marching Scarlet Knights headed to perform at the Super Bowl pregame in MetLife Stadium, it's quite the tour of great NY limelight for a band that also performed at this year's Victoria Secret Fashion Show.


Notre Dame:

B4: 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl - BYU vs. Washington

Since BYU went independent, the Pac-12 is the most logical regional dance partner. While archrival Utah falls off the schedule for the next two years, the Cougars have Cal next year. They'll get their Bay Area preview here, while Washington plays its Pac-12 North foes Cal and Stanford here on a regular basis.



B4: 2013 Texas Bowl - Minnesota vs. Syracuse

I'll admit, Syracuse vs. Minnesota hasn't sounded like a bowl matchup in most years, as both teams trend towards the bottom of their respective conferences, but Minnesota nearly made a run at the Legends division, and Syracuse is doing just fine in their new conference. This won't be the Pride of the Orange's final hurrah this season; they will be involved in the pregame festivities for the Super Bowl at the Meadowlands.



B4: 2013 Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman - Marshall vs. Mayland

The Terps succeeded in keeping a band from West Virginia off a Maryland football field earlier this year; as they played West Virginia in a home-away-from-home game in Baltimore, College Park home rules prevailed, ensuring only the Mighty Sound of Maryland performed during halftime. While they're still in their home state, they've got no dominion over the technically-neutral-site bowl game in Annapolis, meaning the Marching Thunder get to shine as well.



B4: 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl - Northern Illinois vs. Utah State

Northern Illinois and the Huskie Marching Band had their sites set on returning to the BCS before plans were derailed in the MAC championship game. While the paycheck's a little different, there's something to be said for wintering in San Diego, where they'll meet Utah State and the Aggie Marching Band.

Northern Illinois:
Utah State:

B4: 2013 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl - Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh

Pitt left the Big East - now American Athletic Conference - behind, meaning that they forego the annual bowl season trip to Birmingham in favor of Detroit. This year's Pizza Bowl is an all Rust Belt affair, as the Pitt and the Varsity Marching Band will take on the MAC champions in Bowling Green and the Falcon Marching Band.

Bowling Green:


Saturday, December 21, 2013

B4: 2013 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl - Oregon State vs. Boise State

Two bands from the Pacific Northwest meet way out in the Pacific in Hawaii. While I'm sure travel for a Christmas Eve bowl may cut into some folks' holiday plans, you can't complain too much about a trip to Honolulu.

Oregon State:

Boise State:

B4: 2013 Beef O'Bradys Bowl St. Petersburg - ECU Pirates vs. Ohio Bobcats

Road trips to the Tampa Bay area will soon one again be commonplace as the Pirates are entering the American Athletic Conference and will be reunited with USF. Ohio's Marching 110 cap the year in Florida after starting it in Europe, with a tour that included stops in Dublin and the Vatican.



B4: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - Tulane vs. Louisiana Lafayette

The nightcap of bowl season's opening Saturday is an all Louisiana affair. Tulane gets a curtain call in the stadium they've called home for nearly four decades, while Louisiana travels east to New Orleans to play here for the third year in a row.



B4: 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Buffalo vs. San Diego State

The two schools competing here are coming from opposite corners of the US. While the Marching Aztecs didn't make the trip, San Diego State found themselves in Boise last year after Boise State joined them in the Mountain West. Still, I'm sure there's a touch of home with the blue hue and cold weather for the Buffalo Bulls.


San Diego State:

B4: 2013 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State vs. USC

It's a California in-state matchup taking place in nearby Nevada as the Bulldog Marching Band meets the Spirit of Troy. The latter will be down one of their biggest proponents, as noted fan of the program Ed Orgeron left the university after being denied the head coaching job. And while the two tunes are distinct, you can go a strong two notes into the schools' respective fight songs and not realize which side has stricken up the band.

Fresno State:


B4: 2013 Gildan New Mexico Bowl - Washington State vs. Colorado State

It all starts out west. whether a century ago when the Rose Bowl began college football's postseason, or this year at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. This postseason will end out west as well. But before the New Years Day march down Colorado Boulevard, Colorado State will begin the bowl action in Albuquerque, and much like every college football Saturday, the day will begin with the Washington State flag flying.

Washington State:

Colorado State:

Big Band Bowl Battle: Year 3

Bowl season is here once again, and with it, the third installment of the Big Band Bowl Battle. I'm comfortable in declaring this the most extensive bowl band preview to be found, providing a glimpse into the 70 bands bound for college football's postseason each year. In the weeks between now and the national championship game, previews will be preceding each bowl game, featuring videos of the two participating bands and a brief synopsis. The schedule is as follows:

12/21: Gildan New Mexico Bowl through Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
12/26: Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl through Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
12/29: Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl through Chick Fil-A Bowl
12/31: New Year, non-BCS bowls
1/1: BCS Bowls

They will all post here on the days above; stay tuned here and on Twitter and Facebook for these and more bowl band news this season!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

BOTR Game of the Week: 2013 Conference Championship Week

This time of the year is bittersweet. There's a whole lot at stake this weekend, with championships up for grabs in all but one of the major conferences (I'm counting the American for as long as we have an AQ, dammit!) Unfortunately, it also means the season is effectively over.

There are a few notable band matchups this weekend as well. Believe it or not, this year will be the first that the Big Ten championship game matches a pair of Sudler Trophy winners (thanks, Wisconsin). The SEC pits a stalwart pair of tigers against one another in the Auburn University Marching Band and the Marching Mizzou.The LSJUMB will make the trip down to Arizona to play on the Sun Devils' turf, and while I can make assumptions, I've never seen the DUMB live and look forward to seeing them in the ACC championship game.

Through all that, though, Houston's the place to be this weekend for the SWAC championship festivities. First, in something that I didn't realize until earlier this season, the SWAC invites all member bands to participate in a battle of the bands following the game, a 10 band affair that is numerically (and one could make the argument star-power-wise) larger than the Honda Battle of the Bands. What's more, the game itself will be a rematch of the BoomBox Classic, pitting Jackson State's Sonic Boom of the South against Southern's Human Jukebox. In case you missed it, this 5th transpired the last time they met:

I can't believe I somehow never put this up as an Amazing Happens Every Saturday. Southern's rendition of Holy Grail may be my top band moment this season, and I'm not particularly fond of the song outside of that context. These two getting to meet once again will be a treat.

If you can't say something nice...

I'm going to say a few nice things about things you don't normally hear me praise. You're welcome.

-Yes, I knew UCF would beat us. Didn't expect for it to go down how it did, but the outcome was a Knight victory. Now a cold hard truth: It's easy for us USF folk to point out that they're now 1-4 against us all time, but the inconvenient truth is that in matches when the two teams were on equal footing, UCF is 1-0. UCF has won the conference and is headed to the BCS, and we've never finished better than 3rd in this or any conference. Do better, Bulls.

-It's a foregone conclusion from nearly everyone that FSU will mop the floor (wipe the field?) with Duke in the ACC championship game. I'm only slightly less convinced - I have seen FSU lose to Wake Forest - but I hope it's a good deal closer, both because I'll be there and would like to see a reasonable game, but also because Duke doesn't deserve to be embarrassed. David Cutcliffe may be a damn wizard for taking Duke to 10 wins and an championship game berth. Some will point to this as evidence of a weak ACC - they're not necessarily wrong - but it doesn't change the fact that this Duke team is damn good. To ignore that fact because of the other 100+ years of Blue Devil football is to support the system that rewards/punishes teams based on their history and name, not on their current merit.

-I still don't have anything nice to say about Rutgers. Sorry/not sorry.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

1 Second of Regulation

I'm confident that the end to the 2013 Iron Bowl will be one of college football's "where were you when..." moments. I write this as much for myself than I do for anyone reading; I need to capture the memory before it fades with time, and at least for now, it's as fresh as it was two nights ago.

So where was I? A hotel room in Staunton, VA.

My wife, daughter, and I were splitting up the trip from Thanksgiving in Baltimore back home to Greensboro and checked into our hotel as the game was in progress. I actually missed nearly all of what I hear was a great game all around; as we settled in, my wife tuned the TV to a movie that was somewhere deep in our Netflix I'll-get-to-it-eventually list, I had plugged in my laptop and was looking to get a lay of the land of the end of the 3:30 games/start of the evening games when Twitter's eruption at the tying play led me to to watch the remainder of the Iron Bowl. I tuned in just in time. I saw the game almost end. I saw the countless angles, the review that seemed like it took forever, the one second returned to the clock, the audible disappointment from the Auburn faithful at Jordan-Hare.

And then I saw The Play. I don't know if the college football intelligentsia have named it yet, but there's no doubt a name is coming. I watched it all unfold completely incredulous at what I was watching transpire. I said something in utter disbelief, probably "Oh My God," which prompted my wife to ask what happened. There was a full beat before I could gather myself enough to break down what had just happened, and even longer before I could put into words what had happened, how it came into being, and what it meant. This is as close as I can probably come to a stream-of-consciousness of my experience with the game.

He didn't get out in time. We're going to overtime.

They're taking a look at it.

No, it looks like he did get out in time. But one second? It'll be an improbable Hail Mary, then probably overtime.

Field goal? Sure whatever. He'll make it, and Bama'll win, just like we thought, or, more likely, he'll miss and we'll see overtime.

Hey wait, there's a guy back there.

Ah well, they'll get him, and the game's going to overtime.

See there. He stepped out. Overtime.

Wait he didn't step out. He's still going. They've got nothing but big guys out there. He's going to... he just... HTRAFGROAHTEROGJA

That last big was my brain shorting out.

Of course, my wife wasn't nearly as enthused as I was, and I had to share the moment with someone. The tweet above and an accompanying Facebook post was all I could must at first, and frankly, the truth. Then the phone came out.

First text was to my friend James, a Florida State alum dating an Auburn alum. I'm headed to the ACC Championship game with James this weekend.

HOLY SHIT. Tell Julia I say War damn Eagle. Do we lose y'all to Atlanta or do we have a week to figure out how to get a tv to the tailgate?

Thankfully, Saturday's plans are intact. My next text was to my friend Kathleen, an Ohio State fan.

War. Damn. Eagle.

Her Buckeyes, of course, should be in the driver's seat to the national championship game with Bama out of the way. Turns out, she was working an event and hadn't even seen the outcome yet.

How amazing did I think it was? I was too in awe to even take note of the reverse Rammer Jammering I can only assume took place at the hand of the Auburn University Marching Band - unless they were on the field as well. I make no claim to be a sports historian, or even have a vast history behind me, but that has to be one of the top finishes of all time. It would have been amazing in a vacuum, but given that it also altered the course of the SEC and national championship races, it was all the more epic. Perhaps Buster Olney put it best:

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